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Indicator: Forest communities

Forests provide a range of important economic, cultural and environmental benefits for many Canadian communities, including those in both urban and rural Canada.

  • Over 23 million people live in or near forests in Canada (about two-thirds of the total population).
  • About 300 communities across Canada rely on the forest sector for a significant share of jobs and income.
  • About 2% of Canada’s population (700,000 people) live in these forest-reliant communities.
  • According to the last census (2016), over 1.1 million Indigenous people live in or near forests, and nearly 12,000 are employed in the forest sector.
 

About 44% of people in Canada’s forest sector labour force live in rural communities – a higher share than in most other sectors. For example:

Icon showing a stylized house in rural area44% Rural
Mackenzie, BC
Kapuskasing, ON
Maniwaki, QC
Kedgewick, NB
Icon showing stylized houses in a small city or suburban area21% Urban
Kamloops, BC
Pembroke, ON
Alma, QC
Fredericton, NB
Icon showing stylized high-rise urban buildings35% Large urban
Vancouver, BC
Ottawa, ON
Montréal, QC
Halifax, NS
 

Why is this indicator important?

  • In communities where the forest sector provides a large share of jobs and income, issues that affect the forest sector can affect the entire community.
  • In addition to their important role in local economies, forests are central to the health and well-being of all Canadians.

What is the outlook?

  • Rural and remote communities are often located near forest resources. For this reason, these communities will continue to play a role in Canada’s forest sector, providing jobs and income for the people who live there
  • Despite 2020 challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, strong demand for Canadian forest products, emerging opportunities in the bioeconomy, and increased use of high-value forest products are expected to continue to materialize, meaning that the forest sector will continue to provide opportunities for people across Canada, particularly those who live in rural, remote, and forest-reliant communities.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

  • Montréal Process : 6.3.c, 6.5.b
Sources and information

Forest-reliant communities

  • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service. Calculations based on Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population.
  • Statistics Canada. 2016 Census of Population.
    • The forest sector communities indicator is based on Statistics Canada’s census subdivisions. A subdivision is “the general term for municipalities (as determined by provincial/territorial legislation) or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes (e.g. Indian reserves, Indian settlements and unorganized territories).” Since there is no standardized definition of community across provinces and territories, using census subdivisions allows for a consistent approach in reporting over time. In 2016, Canada was divided into 5,161 census subdivisions.
    • In 2019, the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) adopted a new method for identifying communities that rely on economic activity from natural resource sectors. The method is based on the sector dependence index (SDI), a well-established approach to assess the relative importance of a given sector to local economies. In addition to considering the share of total income generated from the forest sector, CFS used the SDI to establish if the forest sector provides a high number of jobs relative to the average Canadian community. The calculations also established if there are many other sectors that are also a source of jobs for local residents.
    • In 2018, The State of Canada’s Forests Annual Report noted that the forest sector was a major source of income for 105 census subdivisions in Canada. In 2019, following the new method, it reported that 300 Canadian communities rely on the forest sector for a significant share of economic activity.
    • Employment data from Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population refers to the number of people employed, not in the labour force (which includes those people unemployed).

Number of Indigenous people and Canadians that live in or near forests

  • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service. Calculations based on Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population and Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service’s National Forest Inventory’s forested land cover.
  • National Forest Inventory.
  • Statistics Canada. 2016 Census of Population.
    • Spatial (geographic information system) analysis used the two previous sources to calculate the percentage of forest cover by census subdivision (CSD). To be considered forested, a CSD needed to contain >=25% of forested land cover. Populations residing within those forested CSDs are considered living in or near forests.
    • The forest sector communities indicator is based on Statistics Canada’s census subdivisions. A subdivision is “the general term for municipalities (as determined by provincial/territorial legislation) or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes (e.g. Indian reserves, Indian settlements and unorganized territories).” Since there is no standardized definition of community across provinces and territories, using census subdivisions allows for a consistent approach in reporting over time. In 2016, Canada was divided into 5,161 census subdivisions.

Indigenous employment in the forest sector

  • Statistics Canada. 2016 Census of Population (special extraction, April 20, 2018).
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service calculations for Indigenous employment are based on Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population.
    • These values refer to the number of people employed, not in the labour force, which includes those unemployed.
    • Indigenous refers to people who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit). Indigenous also refers to people who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act) and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band.
 

Table of contents — The State of Canada's Forests Report

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